Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Anti-Immigrant Movement Openly Divided on Proposed E-Verify Measure

Stephen Piggott • Jun 22, 2011

In recent weeks Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) new E-Verify bill has shot a schism through the supposedly “unified” anti-immigrant movement.

The anti-immigrant movement is openly split on the bill, with Kris Kobach, author of SB1070 and counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), acting as the mouthpiece for those within the movement who are opposed to Smith’s bill. On the other side, the pro-Smith bill contingent consists of the anti-immigrant movement’s “Big Three”—NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

And so with these battle lines drawn, a very public shouting match has been playing out between Kobach and the head of CIS, Mark Krikorian, over at the National Review Online.
It’s not surprising that the “Big Three” are in favor of the bill, especially when one considers that since the beginning of the year they have collectively outlined the passing of mandatory E-Verify as one of their primary goals for 2011.

What is surprising, however, is that Kobach so vehemently opposes the measure.
Kobach, for his part, is backed up by Congressman Lou Barletta, the former Mayor of Hazelton, PA, who at the local level introduced one of the most anti-immigrant ordinances seen of late. He also sits on FAIR’s national board of advisors and is a former member of a network of anti-immigrant legislators tied to FAIR, State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI). Now a federal legislator, Barletta founded the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

So with these major players warring with one another, a question is begged: which sectors of the anti-immigrant movement are backing which sides of this issue?

As it stands, the divide seems relatively clear.

It appears that the “lawmakers” and the “lawyers,” i.e. the Barletta and Kobach types, are mobbing up against the “policy-oriented” types, i.e. Krikorian and those like him.

Without question, this movement loves to present itself as undivided and “non-partisan,” but these spats indicate some deeper issues.

Such divisions could damage the anti-immigrant movement and its unwavering vision of a “patriotic” cadre of terribly concerned American citizens.

One needs to look no further than the Tea Party to discover how leadership splits metastasize and so plague a larger movement.

2011 has seen the anti-immigrant movement advance, yes, but for Smith’s E-Verify bill to have any chance of passing a Democratic Senate, much less being signed into law by a Democratic President, a unified stance will be required.

As it stands, FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA are steadfastly behind Smith’s legislation, presently regarding his proposed bill as the mandatory E-Verify law that they so desperately crave.

It remains to be seen whether Kris Kobach, author of myriad anti-immigrant bills so unconstitutional that they have consistently failed, will either continue to oppose the bill or decide to bow at the feet of his employer and “friends.”

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